Repetition in writing: why it happens, what it means, and how to fix it
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Repetition in writing: why it happens, what it means, and how to fix it

Every editor has had this experience: deep into a manuscript, you find yourself reading a familiar passage. Sure enough, it duplicates content that was earlier in the manuscript. Don’t just delete it. Ask yourself why it’s there, and use that knowledge to make the manuscript better. Why writers repeat themselves All writers repeat information in…

Why your publisher won’t edit your manuscript — and what to do about it

Why your publisher won’t edit your manuscript — and what to do about it

I’ve now written or edited more than 25 books published by traditional or hybrid publishers. I know what your publisher is looking for, and what they will and won’t do for you. So it’s time for some straight talk about that. Publishers in 2021 won’t generally edit your book. They are looking for a publishable…

Contributed op-ed case study (4): Editing and revision
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Contributed op-ed case study (4): Editing and revision

Writing an opinion piece is rarely the end of the process. The editors of your target publication are likely to request revisions. An effective writer budgets time for those revisions and maintains effort and creativity through the revision cycle. Responding to edits In the last three posts, I explained how I pitched, researched, and wrote…

Don’t crowdsource editing (but you can crowdsource these other things)
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Don’t crowdsource editing (but you can crowdsource these other things)

Last week, two different authors told me they were sending chapters to a bunch of their friends to get feedback. One planned to send it to 40 people. This is terrible way to edit. Consider what happens when you crowdsource an edit Anyone who’s ever read a Wikipedia article has seen the incoherent and personality-free…

Are editors failed writers?

Are editors failed writers?

Robert Giroux, who eventually became T.S. Eliot’s editor, once asked Eliot if he agreed with the sentiment that most editors are failed writers. Eliot’s reply: “Perhaps, but so are most writers.” Putting the witticism aside, what are editors? Failed writers? Uber-writers? Or something different? I’ve been writing professionally for 38 years and editing for almost…